Money Advice Service chief executive Toby Hobman has defended the use of the words free, unbiased and independent in its recent TV ad.
In an interview with Money Marketing at the LibDem conference in Birmingham this week, Hobman said the use of the wording was justified and was not intended to undermine the role of the IFA.
He said: “We used independent in the sense we are independent from Government and from the industry, that we are a standalone organisation.
“We understand there are these technical definitions and they are important but in a post-RDR world we expect we will help customers understand what those labels mean and, in a sense, engaging more people with their finances creates a bigger market for independent advice.”
He said he understood the concerns made “very clearly” from parts of the industry but he added: “We are using the term advice in the way average people in the street use it and we are not seeking to try and do anything else and that was clear in the response from the Advertising Standards Authority.”
LibDem peer and managing director of investment firm OLIM, Lord Oakeshott said he is happy to pay his share of the levy which funds the MAS and that well run IFAs “have nothing to fear” from the service. “I think they are complementary, it allows IFAs to give a better service at an enhanced level,” he said.
Aifa director general Stephen Gay used an MAS-run fringe event to congratulate the service for not straying into regulated advice.
He said: “I mystery-shopped the service and I found it impossible to entice any of your advisers to step over the boundaries from non-regulated service into regulated advice, as much as I tried to tempt them.”